Subject Verb Agreement (30 Stories — 26)

The men across the street seem to come to work with the express purpose of stripping to the waist and showing me their bronzed torsos.  They fill almost the entire view from my breakfast window.  My coffee is made by eight, and they are already on the job: brown, muscled selves on display, lifting heavy objects, wielding tools, leaning in the doorway.  They don’t look up at my window, of course, but they pose for me all the same.

Generally speaking, I don’t mind — they are possessed of attractive torsos — but it’s unnecessary. We all know I’ll step out after lunch and walk down the street to buy a mango liquado.  We all know I’ll stop on the way back for some small thing at the market.  We all know I’ll round the corner and head for my door — slowly, slowly, slowly — and turn to ask one of them to help me carry some boxes upstairs.  We all know what will happen once a box or two has been deposited against the increasingly-crowded wall of the extra bedroom.  The showing off of torsos is unrelated to the outcome of the afternoon.

I have asked them all and will ask them all again, and again still.  Long after the mass of boxes has finally been transferred from the courtyard to the third floor bedroom-turned-study, long after I have unpacked everything and arranged the apartment just so.

When my husband arrives at the end of the month, he will transform them into neighbors I barely know and certainly don’t speak to.  They will imagine, at first, that he is my father — even my grandfather — and then they will understand and will laugh at him as he strolls past on his way to get the paper and cream horns for his breakfast.  He will notice their laughter but not in a real way.  He is removed and entitled enough to dismiss them as unintelligent, smiling townsfolk.  He will say offensive, paternalistic things such as: “The people in these towns are always so happy with their simple lives.  Everywhere we go, I find them full of nothing but good will.  You’d think they know nothing of what the world really is.”

He’s right, of course, about happiness with a simple life and a lack of awareness of what the world is like.  We will travel through another five moves before he understands the error in his choice of subject.


Originally intended to be part of 30 Stories 30 Days / Tumblr.

(Oh ouch.  I really didn’t want to publish this one.  It’s been sitting around for days, waiting for me to find a way to make it less unkind.  Nothing doing.  Sometimes it’s just really hard to acknowledge that I have to accept the stories for what they are and stop trying to mold them to suit me.)


6 thoughts on “Subject Verb Agreement (30 Stories — 26)

    1. I think she’s a direct outgrowth of conversations I’ve been having this week around writing characters we don’t like or who expose less attractive sides of life. I don’t know that I “dislike” her, exactly, but she makes me uncomfortable … which was exactly why I finished the story and posted it.


  1. Hmm, I’m a little sleep deprived and had to read through this twice to get all the subtle details. Considering the age of her husband, I feel the sense of a mail order bride type arrangement. She is accustomed to using her “wiles” to get what she wants and is unrepentant in it. She is an interesting anti-heroine. Nicely done.


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